Everything you’ve learned so far, won’t matter unless you pick up your pencil, your guitar, your mouse, and start doing the work. Period. You have to do the work because nobody else will do it for you.
You need to be disciplined, have a strong work ethic, and show up every day to do the thing you love. If you feel like skipping, and you don’t wake up in the middle of the night thinking “what if I did this?” and in the morning pursuing that crazy idea, then it’s not for you. Passion is the most important catalyst that fuels your drive and keeps you going.
Passion can be a great motivator. But motivation only gets you pumped up to start something; it only gets you excited. Unless you are disciplined, committed, have strong habits, then you won’t be able to start the thing you’ve been dreaming of, and you’ll most certainly not be able to sustain or complete it.
I get stuff done by adding deadlines to things. I put myself on a deadline to finish that blog post by tonight, complete that project by Friday, deliver that website design in three weeks.
Keep a list of things that need to be done. By writing them down, you’re setting them “in stone”—they’re not fragile ideas floating inside your head anymore. I’ve discovered that when I have a “to-do” list, I get more done. And I’m not using fancy software. A simple
.md file synced to Dropbox (so I can access it from other devices), filled with small actions (verbs). Once I’ve completed something, I add “###” to it. For example:
design checkout pages ###upload retina tutorial video write tutorial blog post
Improving your craft
If you’re starting out as a designer, and you’re looking to improve your craft, practice by copying works of designers you look up to. That’s the best way to learn. Keep those copies to yourself though, don’t post them online and claim ownership.
If you’re an established designer and have an established style, search for concepts or ideas, and try to recreate them using your style. For example Dan Matutina took classic rivals like Batman vs Joker, Tom vs Jerry, and illustrated them as coexisting together in the shape of a heart.
Or José Guizar who takes long walks around New York and illustrates interesting windows he sees.
We all started from scratch
Keep in mind that every single kick-ass designer you look up to, started from scratch, from zero. They became kick-ass designers, by spending less time consuming content (TV, Music, articles, video games) and going out, and more time creating stuff and improving their craft.
And you create stuff and get shit done by committing yourself to doing at least one thing every single day. Because after all:
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” - Aristotle